Voyager’s new focus gets more big pharma validation

Voyager Therapeutics’ move last August away from its first-generation gene therapies is already paying off. The group’s option agreement with Novartis today, worth $54m up front, follows a similar deal with Pfizer in October. Both big pharmas were tempted by Voyager’s so-called Tracer adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsids, designed to allow more specific targeting of gene therapies to certain tissues or cell types. This could allow lower dosing than current gene therapies and avoid the toxicity concerns that have dogged this approach, Voyager believes. The company has always been interested in getting its projects into the brain, but now believes that it can do this with intravenous therapies, versus the direct delivery that previously caused problems. The group says Tracer capsids could also be used outside the brain, and it is noteworthy that, while the Novartis agreement focuses on CNS disorders, the Pfizer deal covers one CNS and one cardiovascular target. Voyager also has its own pipeline, and is hoping for more collaborations. But the Tracer capsids will still be linked with other issues affecting AAVs, namely complicated and expensive manufacturing, and the immunogenicity that currently limits gene therapy to a one-off treatment for those without pre-existing antibodies.

Source: company presentation.

Share This Article